PERRY, Iowa — It’s been five years since anyone built a new house in Perry.
That fact stands out on its own, but is even more incredible when compared to the growth rate of suburbs like Waukee.
Mayor Jay Pattee hopes that a new tax abatement plan, being considered Tuesday evening, will be just the thing his city needs to attract young professionals and new families.
“We need to jump-start the residential and get the housing going” Pattee said, “we are an existing community that’s been around for hundreds of years and has a downtown with its own personality and great artistic things happening in it,” he said.
The 10 year plan would offer residents no property tax for the first five years. At the six-year mark the tax abatement drops 85 percent, and then falls to 15 percent by year 10.
“We’re betting that by offering abatement in the short run we’re going to increase our tax base down the road; and that increased tax base will make us a better place for everybody,” said Pattee.
In fiscal year 2016, the city collected just over 2.5 million dollars in property taxes. Mayor Pattee is confident that schools and other tax funded departments can weather receiving no new property tax income for the short-term, and make it up in long-term gain.
“You know if we did absolutely nothing and there was no residential development in Perry over the next five years or 10 years like there has been over the last five years, we’d be no better off there’d be no tax revenue,” said Pattee.
It’s not just new homes though; under the plan the city will offer tax abatement to any homeowner who makes at least a $20,000 renovation to their home.
“It encourages present owners to improve their property, so that all becomes part of the picture and I think it’s a real important picture for our town going forward. Not only are we looking at the new development, but we’re also looking at improving what we already have,” said Pattee.
Residents say they’re excited to see new faces, and that this abatement could set the next generation up for success.
“That would really help them get ahead and they could do more financial planning and get a firmer foot financially and just take advantage of that; maybe buy a bigger house or construct a bigger house than they’d be able to otherwise,” said longtime resident Sue Kimpston.
Perry is further to Des Moines than any of the major suburbs, about a 45 minute commute, but Mayor Pattee says it offers something places like Johnston or West Des Moines doesn’t.
“I could see a lot of folks who want to live in a town that kinda has its own identity; if you will, a smaller town feel, and yet work in the larger city,” said Pattee.